Ctripper posts come to us directly from the good folks at Ctrip, China's top online travel agency (and proud sponsor of ChinaTravel.net). Stay tuned for Ctrip special offers, travel tips, news on new travel deals, tours and activities, and slices of life-in-China from Ctrip staff and interns. Chris bids farewell to Ctrip, but not without one last piece of advice for his avid readers.... >>>
Now that my time in China is coming to a close, I have been reflecting on the many amazing places I have visited. But while Hangzhou and Beijing are great in their own unique ways, there are places I would have loved to go but just didn't have the time or the money (the plight of a college student) to get to. In all the vastness that is China, the places I most wanted to visit are Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet, and the Terracotta Warriors in Xian.
A World of It’s Own
While Shanghai is the financial capital of China, Hong Kong is one of the leading financial capitals in the world. Along with being a financial giant, it is one of the few places in the world that belongs to one country but still maintains a different political and economic system. This is because when the British left Hong Kong, it was agreed that the city would remain under the same type of law as before for at least a period of time. The fact that Hong Kong exists as basically a different country within one country is truly fascinating. I have also heard it is an amazingly great time. Hong Kong harbor has the world’s largest permanent light show, along with a magnificent skyline, making it a great place to go on an evening cruise. Also, most people speak English there, so getting around would be considerably easier than it is in mainland China (though I've managed to figure Shanghai out for the most part). Hong Kong would truly be a different world, not even a country away!
Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!
With Hong Kong being so finance centric, sometimes you just want to cool off and play some cards. But where should you go? Viva Las Vegas baby! I kid, I kid. Vegas is a little far for most Chinese people. So instead, they head to Asia's very own city of lights. Macau is the gambling epicenter of Asia, with (interestingly enough) one of the highest life-expectancies in the world. The best part is that you can get to Macau from Hong Kong with just an hour ferry ride. When the monopolization of gambling was lifted in the early 2000’s, many of the casino owners from Vegas went to open in Macau. And open they did, building an MGM Grand, Wynn, Venetian, and others in the booming city. Although not as culturally relevant to China as cities like Beijing or Hong Kong, Macau would still be an incredible place to visit, hopefully with times worthy of The Hangover.Roof of the World
While these commercial giants would be a great time, I can't help but be drawn to the "Roof of the World" to visit one Chinese region that has truly stood the test of time. Tibet is located near the Himalayas, and includes the world’s tallest mountain (Mount Everest) along the border with Nepal. Tibetan people and culture are one of the most popularly referenced among the Chinese minorities, and it would be amazing to experience the region first hand. And while I don't think I would ever make an attempt at the peak, spending some time at Everest base camp would be a pretty awesome thing to check off the old bucket list.
All the Emperors Men
While Tibet is a place of mystery to many around the world, it does not compare to the fame and "must-see" reputation of the Terracotta Warriors of Xian. This army was discovered by farmers near the mausoleum of the first Emperor of the Qin dynasty. The figures date all the way back to 210 BC and include more than 8,000 figures up to 6 feet 5 inches tall. As the story goes, the army was created to help the belated emperor rule in the afterlife, and much like a snowflake, the emperor demanded that no two warriors were the same (most likely not referencing snowflakes because that fact was not known at the time). One of the coolest things about the warriors is every feature on them has a specific purpose to display the rank of the warrior within the army; for example, the taller the warrior, the higher his ranking.
All four of these are destinations I would have liked to have visited, but sometimes time just gets away from you. I have heard great things about all of these places, and hope to make it back to China to pay them all a visit.
I hope you enjoyed reading my Intern Diaries, I know I enjoyed sharing my experience. Hopefully I shed some light on what it is like being an outsider getting his very first taste of the Chinese people and culture.
Stay classy, Ctrippers